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Gates – A French Homestead Life

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Over the last couple of years the feathered gang has increased. From two flocks of chickens with a couple of rescue roosters, we have now nine boisterous Tolouse geese including our new rescue Louis ( was on the food menu, bought for meat and luckily the buyer regretted and asked for rehoming!), two guineas, seven pekin ducks, five who have just arrived and are honestly poop machines and two runner ducks. Add to this five rescued cockerels and it was becoming a little complicated dealing with hormones, gang warfare, over boisterous boys and escapees, it was time to Gate-Up.

We have a wildish poultry garden and an orchard for the birds. Over time, adding fences to make safe areas from predators and each other, as sometimes geese are territorial and will kill a hen that’s wandered from the flock or the ducks. A lone goose is no problem and often a lobe goose makes a good protector, but as a group, its a different matter. Two geese will pull a duck to pieces…I just won’t risk it.

Our batchelor flock also presented problems. They ousted one and now poor Rudi cannot share their territory. He is sadly alone till we get him a hen flock next year, and he gets a little frustrated and upset especially in evening when he heads to his little house in the duck pen. It’s cosy and safe, but there it’s solitary and chickens are super social.

Geese need grazing areas to be rotated, rested and routine. They get anxious if food isn’t where it should be, water and snorkle buckets are not filled and being let out in the evening to explore and sleep near the other flock. Louis hasn’t been accepted yet, still a threat to the dominant males, and that means manoeuvring him to his night pen.

So now the fences are up and the gardens laid out to give everyone a space, we needed gates. Some were finished a while ago, the rest today. We recycle pallets, decking, whatever we have. Over time they will be painted in pretty primrose yellow and cornflower blues, hung with bells and hooks to hang herbs from.

I love the structure the give to the garden too. It’s a hectare and can look very sparce if we simply mowed, but we have allowed saplings to grow, woodpiles to fill with wild weeds, clover to spread and rejuvanated the apple orchard. In time these areas will have shrubs, cottage garden wild flowers, benches and summer houses. For now it is goose land in the evenings, noisily discussed in a chorus of honks, herrs and bubububas. Everyone else heads to their coops for a last minute meal, a preen and then sleep. By eight in the evening even the geese have settled and all is quiet and I have a lot of gates to close!

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